Euro 2016 quarter-finals
Portugal vs Poland 1 -1
(Portugal wins 5-3 on penalties)
Portugal defeated Poland by penalties to become the first team that reaches the semi-final stage of the 2016 European Championship.
This time around, Fernando Santos’s team made themselves out to be the better team deserving of a win.
They were not quite in the game when their opposition’s star captain Robert Lewandowski struck the first goal in normal time. The striker had his usual clinical finishing at the ready when Kamil Grosicki’s found him with a low cut back after just 100 seconds.
Portugal remained courageous amidst adversity, with Cristiano Ronaldo getting two opportunities to equalize. First he was found open by a Nani pass but shot the ball straight to Lukasz Fabianski, and then should have a penalty when Michal Pazdan charged into him.
But Portugal finally rested doubters about them being a one-man team. 18-year-old Renato Sanches equalized 12 minutes before normal time break with a thumping left-footed shot from the edge of the area, which took a deflection off Grzegorz Krychowiak.
He then followed up act by nervelessly stepping up and converting his team’s second penalty.
After Nani pulled Portugal ahead by 4-3, Rui Patricio dived far to his left to block Jakub Blaszczykowski’s effort with one hand. Ricardo Quaresma was next, and while Fabianski got his fingertips to the effort, the Polish keeper failed to keep it out, thus sealing Poland’s fate and sparking delirium amongst Portuguese supporters.
“It was enormous pressure and I had an entire country in my hands,” Quaresma said after. “But I stayed positive and I knew I was going to score. I was very confident. We’re on the right track and we’re going to continue.”
Still, many would remark on how Porgual reached the last four without winning a single game in normal time after three draws in a group in which they finished third, and triumphing over Croatia in extra time in the last 16.
No side has ever got this far without winning a match within 90 minutes, and Portugal also only led a match for 22 minutes during the whole tournament.
In comparison, Poland had not trailed behind for a single minute.
Still, there is little room for error for Portugal next as they either face Belgium or Wales next.